First 1000 days

This is the period from conception until a child’s 2nd birthday, which offers a unique window of opportunity to shape healthier and more prosperous futures. The first 1,000 days are a time of tremendous potential and enormous vulnerability. How well or how poorly mothers and children are nourished and cared for during this time has a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and thrive.

We have partnered with Little Lambs and the Dunoon Clinic to develop programmes that will specifically target a mom and her baby during this time. We have identified the following focus areas: pre and post natalclasses, breastfeeding support, practical sessions with mom and baby on the importance mental stimulation through play and affection. Our brains develop faster in the first 1000 days of life than at any other time in our lives. Our message is simple – spend every opportunity cuddling, loving, rocking, stroking and being with your baby. Respond to their crying. Cuddle them when you feed. Sing, talk and soothe them with your voice. Babies start learning to talk from the day they are born by listening to and eventually learning how to make the sounds and then understand the meanings of the words you use. Even though they can’t talk back, flood your baby with your gentle voice, your words, your songs. Copy the sounds he makes back to him. Tell her what you are doing as you lift, feed, bath and change nappies. That language will become the foundation for their learning, understanding and thinking as they grow and develop. And respond to your baby’s cries. Babies cannot be naughty. If they cry they need something.

Shared book reading moms & tots

Our facilitators have been trained by the Mikhulu Trust in Dialogic book-sharing and we follow their award winning curriculum using wordless picture books. ‘Dialogic book-sharing’ is a special kind of interaction between an adult and a young child using a wordless picture book. It is not simply ‘reading’ to a child who listens passively – instead, it is an active exchange, led by the child, and supported by an adult who is attentive to their interests and communication. This enjoyable and simple activity has been proven to improve children’s language and cognitive development, and help children understand and get along with other people.

We run morning sessions at our Learning Centre twice a week. We have also partnered with the Breteau Foundation who provides tablets with educational software for toddler to take home for 6-12 months.